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  Diogenes, the famous Greek philosopher, was reputed to have lived in a barrel in Athens many years B.C. More likely it was a clay amphora of that time.

The Latin word cuparius is the root of our word cooper. The Romans had developed a high degree of technology in most things. Making barrels for storage of various goods, both dry and wet, is probably a skill they developed. However most archaeology indicates wine was stored and transported in clay amphorae.

Legend indicates that cooperage was a celtic invention. The vikings had developed the wood joint in boat making. The design of a barrel is on the double arch engineering principle, for strength. Being round it is also easy to move, and the chimb allows for lifting hooks.

Provisioning of ships for dry and wet goods seems to go hand in hand with barrels. The description
"tonnage" refers to capacity, not weight.

Before Columbus chanced on America, there is no indication that barrels existed in either south or north America.

President Kennedy's great grandfather was an Irish cooper who emigrated to Boston during the potato famine. He became a publican.

The Virgin Mary was the Patron Saint of coopers in England until being dropped due to religious persecution in the 15th century.

Pinkerton, the famous detective, was a Glasgow cooper and Chartist who emigrated to America in 1850 on persecution grounds.

Please send all your rumours, legends or other interesting facts - for inclusion in our next update of this page to

Indebted to Alastair Sinclair of Premier Scotch for these words of wisdom.

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